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Gaza Resists for All Palestine

“We can only scream out and loud in the name of Gaza .. We are all Gaza. We are all Hamas . We are all Abu Ubaida.

We are all the martyrs,

the wounded,

the moaning mothers,

the bereaved daughters,

the helpless husbands,

the captived people who can only survive as we resist.”

I know thimg_258600056418108373588321776520551247at we are emotional people here in Palestine. I have to say we are exceptionally sensitive. After all, who ends up in our reality is a natural naive emotional species. Israel would have never made it to any light if empathy from Palestinians was not a significant factor together with hospitality to the captives, escapees refugees threw to us on boats from Europe. As much as this sound like a compliment, it is, by all means, a disaster.

The last nights were lighting nights in the skies and lands of Gaza. Gaza that suffers from lighing sever problems turned into day light… I wonder how difficult it could be to support lights in ap lace like gaza not rockets. If americans give israel light engines instead of firing all that vicious armory on residents … on more than two million people who cannot even have access to the basics of life as a result of the vicious seize and on going wars. On would see white flags and happy kites flown in the sky not explosive or primitime rockets.

the story started when an undercover high (very) ranked israeli militants decided to have a tour in Gaza. A car filled with women dressed individuals driving on the sealine of khanyounis, and suddenly the savagely palestinians blocked them from the road.

Blood again is the signing signal of this scene. 7 Palestinians lost and an isralei leatenant general deceased and one injured , and helicopters had to interfere by exploding everything around and rescue their “touring” officials.”

tens of people have been killed as the day strolled in . Houses and buildings are equaled to dust. Major buildings such as media locations are targeted and destroyed.

Then the world starts with, Hamas started the assault… Hamas fires rockets…

well, Hamas fired rockets later, and escalation took place…

More destruction to civilians, enormous demolitions, rockets, explosions by the highest American paid weapons.

Why do we support Hamas, the world questions …bluntly…

I have to admit it is not only the world.. the planet of Ramallah shares the same feelings of the world… after all who wants destruction.

In a day as such in the west bank, Israeli forces will enter, with no need to be undercovered, and charmingly dressed as women. They enter with troops, through the checkpoints with full coordination with the Palestinian security forces, they assassinate, destroy, shoot, demolish, arrest and leave. No complaints, no comments, well, some facebook protests if passersby see the situation. But residents are peaceful and in a do no harm mode.

While Gaza was lighting with Israeli rockets, the people of the west bank took the streets of Ramallah in protests…. to the new social security law.

It is such an embarrassing moment to belong to people who have lost the meaning of resistence. the menaing of identity. the meaning of nationalism and reducing it to a particular political faction on account of the homeland.

Whatever is happening in the west bank is an embarrassment, not lesser that the embarrassment of belonging to the arab worl. not lesser that nthe embarrassment of belonging to this universe of jeopardized humanity.

This is why we love Gaza. This is why Abu Obaida remains the most appealing man on earth. This is why we support Hamas.

Because the people of Gaza become the pulse of Palestine in horrific moments as this .

We can only scream out and loud in the name of Gaza .. We are all Gaza. We are all Hamas . We are all Abu Ubaida.

We are all the martyrs,

the wounded,

the moaning mothers,

the bereaved daughters,

the helpless husbands,

the captived people who can only survive as we resist.

porterdavis: The video shows Mr. Acosta never touched the…

porterdavis:

The video shows Mr. Acosta never touched the intern.

A few adds:

She is not an intern, but a paid staffer at the WH.

The WH later released an edited version of this video which had been doctored to make it look sinister and as if Mr. Acosta had ‘chopped’ his arm down on her. (this was done by speeding it up).

It may or may not have been the WH who doctored the video (Info Wars is mentioned as a possibility) but they knowingly posted a fake video.

That is propaganda.

هل ننتقم لهواننا من الموتى؟ علاء قرش مثال

 

 

هل ننتقم لهواننا من الموتى؟

 

نزل علينا خبر حادث الطرق الذي أودى بحياة ستة أشخاص وإصابة العديد على طريق البحر الميت، كالصاعقة. فالقلوب لا تحتمل المزيد من الفواجع.

حادث طرق أليم قبيل الفجر، يبكي العيون ويدمي القلوب. شهداء لقمة العيش كما أطلق عليهم. مجموعة من المقدسيين في طريقهم إلى مصنع دجاج مع بزوغ ساعات الصباح الأولى.

من بينهم كان علاء قرش، الذي رفض دفنه لأنه متهم ببيع عقار في البلدة القديمة.

علاء قرش يبدو شابا قد يكون تعدى الثلاثين من عمره. يقال ان البيع تم تسريبه قبل عدة سنوات.

كعادتنا في الكثير من القيل والقال والنطق بالأحكام والمشي وراء الرجم بلا تردد. قررنا ان الشاب الفقيد قد سرب وعليه تقع عقوبة الاقصاء وبالتالي يحرم دفنه بمقابر المسلمين والصلاة عليه.

توقفت عند نقطتين في شأن الشاب الفقيد، الأولى تتعلق بكونه رجل كان يسعى الى قوت يومه للعمل في مصنع من فجر اليوم. كيف يكون باع ولم يغتن؟ فكرة بيع عقار ونوع العمل هذا لا يندمجان في هذه القصة. فكلنا نسمع عن المبالغ الطائلة التي تدفع من أجل هذه الصفقات.

النقطة الثانية هنا هو محاسبته وهو ميت بدلا من حسابه اثناء حياته، فإذا ما كان هذا الشخص معروف للعائلة وللمجتمع القريب منه، فلم لم يتم التبرئة منه في حياته.

لماذا قررت العائلة (ان صح البيان) التبرؤ منه الان؟ هل ظهر تورطه وهو في طريقه للمصنع؟

فكرة احتساب الضحايا شهداء من جهة، ومن ثم اعتبار موت أحدهم انتقام من الله، يؤكد ان الخلل بتعاطي الأمور عندنا بالعموم.

فكيف نشمت في موت أحدهم ونعتبره انتقام رباني، ونرفع موت اخر في نفس الحادث لمرتبة الشهداء؟

كيف قرر الجميع ان هذا الرجل مسرب عقار وقرر محاكمته؟

لماذا لا يتم التبرئة من المتورطين بالتسريبات أثناء حياتهم ان صحت التهمة؟

نعيش في هذه الأيام ظروف جد عصيبة في القدس تحت وطء استعار الحملات الاستعمارية من قبل الاحتلال، وسط ما يحاك من صفقات دولية وإقليمية لما سيصبح صفقة قرن. فما نحتاجه أكثر من أي وقت هو التكاتف امام الحملات غير المنقطعة من اجل ترحيل وتشويه وتهديد من تبقى في القدس.

أعتقد جازمة، بل أطالب بمحاسبة كل من تسول نفسه على تسريب عقار سواء كان مالكا للعقار او سمسارا او محاميا. فهذه جريمة لا تختلف عن جرائم العرض في مجتمعنا. فمن يبيع أرضه للاحتلال لا يختلف عمن يبيع عرضه. وفي موضوع البيع هنا، ان الموضوع ليس بموضوع متعلق بأحدهم فمن يبيع ارضه للاحتلال كمن باع الوطن كله.

واناشد واطالب كذلك بملاحقة المتورطين ومساءلتهم القانونية واقصائهم المجتمعي بكل ما يمكن ليكونوا عبرة لمن يعتبر.

وقد يكون مشهد عدم الدفن مشهدا قويا للغاية، إذا ما كان الميت متهما بالفعل وثبت تورطه. يعني كنت سأكون أول المؤيدين لو كان الميت العطاري الذي باع البيت للمستوطنين ولقد رأينا المستوطنين ورأينا العقود. وكنت ربما كذلك سأتفهم لو مات أي ممن تورط اسمه في هذه الصفقة (أتكلم عن هذا الامر لأنه حديث وليس من اجل التخصيص)

في موضوع علاء قرش، تباينت البيانات التي صدرت تحت اسم عائلته حيث كان البيان الأول حاكما عليه، وكان البيان الثاني مدافعا عنه.

وهنا اكرر، لماذا ظهر موقف العائلة منه عند موته فقط؟

المشكلة ترجع الى مكانها الأول، وهي تأثر الرأي العام بما يتم تداوله. فالتقط الرأي العام فكرة تجريمه وانتصر لموقف اهل المدينة من البائع لأرضه ليكون عبرة لغيره. وخرجت أصوات أخرى تدافع عن الرجل، فكيف يكون بائع لعقار وعامل في مصنع لقي حتفه في طريقه للسعي وراء لقمة العيش.

بين تورط للرجل في اخذ خلو مقابل مسكنه الذي تم تسريبه للمستوطنين وبين تبرئته من عائلته المباشرة، يبقى الرأي العام اشد ظلما في تحليله ووقوفه. فهناك حالة من الإصرار على تلبيس الرجل التهمة، على الرغم من اعلان عائلته بتبرئته.

فكيف عرف من عرف بتفاصيل البيع والخلو والصمود او الخنوع، إذا ما أعلنت العائلة ان ابنها لم يتورط، وان اخلاء العائلة جاء لان البائع الأصلي قد باع بالفعل. فالمجرم الحقيقي في هذه الصفقة هو صاحب البيت الذي باع للمستوطنين. وسواء كان الفقيد قد اذعن وقبل بالخلو ام لم يقبل، يبقى نفي عائلته لهذا الامر هو الفيصل. ولكن يبدو الرأي العام مرة أخرى مستمتعا بالصحافة الصفراء التي تروج لأخبار يراد لها ان تكون هي اللامعة. فمبلغ ٥٠ او ١٠٠ ألف دولار يبدو مبلغا بخسا لبيع عقار، وهو المبلغ الذي من المفترض ان يكون الفقيد قد تلقاه، وعليه فانه مات وهو في طريقه الى مصنع الدجاج في ساعات الفجر.

لا اعرف كيف يبدو هذا المبلغ قليلا، وكأن الملايين تنزل على هذا الشعب من السماء، ولكن اظن ان المبلغ لو كان مع هذا الرجل، لرأيناه قد فتح محلا او اشترى سيارة.

لست بصدد الدفاع عنه، او تبرير ما فعله او لم يفعله. ولكن هناك نقطة يجب التوقف امامها كثيرا، اننا نحاسب ميتا. والكثير يقوم بالتبرع بالإفضاء بمعلومات لن يستطيع الرجل الدفاع عن نفسه بها.

لو كان مذنبا فلقد مات، ولو كان بريئا فلقد مات أيضا، ولكننا فضحناه وفضحنا عائلته وحملناهم وزر ما لم يقترفونه.

في السيناريوهات العديدة المطروحة، ان المرحوم لم يتنازل للمستوطنين، والعائلة نفسها لم تكن متورطة بهذا الفعل المزعوم.

أأكد مرة أخرى على كلمة مزعوم. لأننا لا نعرف ولن نعرف الحقيقة لان صاحبها مات.

لا اعرف كيف تركنا الاحياء من المتورطين، من العطاري، لصبيح، لعقل، لأسماء أخرى كثيرة وعائلات، وتجمعنا كلنا باتفاق على من مات ولا نعرف من القصة هذه الا الشبهات.

أثمن دور ال جودة، على سبيل المثال،  الذين قرروا اخذ مفتاح القيامة من اديب جودة الذي تحوم حوله شبهات التورط في تسريب عقاره، حتى يتبين الامر.

رحم الله علاء قرش ان كان مذنبا او بريئا، لأننا اخذنا أنفسنا في مغبة ذنبه ان أذنب فرجمناه في موته بدل الترحم عليه، واكلنا لحمه ميتا لو كان بريئا، فذنبه في موته برقابنا، كما ذنب أبنائه وعائلته.

Idra Novey: Silence Is Complicity

I first met Idra Novey nearly three years ago, when she visited my MFA class to discuss her debut novel, Ways To Disappear. Over the course of two and a half hours, the celebrated translator, poet, and then-new fiction writer discussed the challenges of beginning to write fiction; writing while also translating other works; and the particulars of the art of translation: how it taught her to value not only other languages, but the nuances of other cultures. Her sharp intellect, genuine warmth, and probing mind make her a superb conversationalist and teacher. I (and my class) was wholly smitten with both her and her thrilling novel.

Novey’s two works of fiction are thrilling indeed—they toe the lines of mystery, thriller, crime, and political caper, and each contain surprise elements (untranslated dialogue in Ways To Disappear, meta-fiction in Those Who Knew) that make them delicious to lovers of more intricate, yet fast-paced and engaging fiction. There is always more than meets the eye to Novey’s writing. Her latest book and second of fiction, Those Who Knew, feels particularly relevant now. Set on an unnamed island ten years after the collapse of an oppressive regime, supported by an also unnamed, but powerful and highly recognizable northern country, it follows several characters embroiled in the murder of a young political activist on the island.  The implications of silence are a focus: Who gets silenced, and how complicity in silence can be its own form of violence. Power imbalances are laid out, and those responsible for them taken to task; Novey makes it clear just how much the unnamed, great northern nation has to atone for. In a time when America feels particularly problematic, and when women have continued the tradition of stepping up to call out injustices, Those Who Knew shines as a book firmly of the moment, with indelible lessons to be learned about the consequences of actions large and small–ours and those we witness.

Novey’s global perspective is informed by her studies in Brazil and experience teaching in Chile for several years; she also translates in Portuguese and Spanish. Lately, Novey has been assisting on works by Iranian poet Garous Abdolmalekian. This all makes her, and her writing, particularly attuned to U.S. foreign relations and the ways America has influenced, affected, and attempted to control the fates and futures of other countries. We discussed this, as well as the book, over dinner in Brooklyn where she lives shortly before the release of Those Who Knew.

–Mickie Meinhardt for Guernica

Guernica: When did you start writing Those Who Knew? What was the genesis of it?

IN: I have my first notes from 2014, about four years ago. I came across this story of a rape case that happened in Steubenville, Ohio, and there was a football coach who was present when a student was raped by two football players. And he did nothing. I started thinking about how people justify inaction to themselves. I was really interested in writing a novel about complicity, grappling with the personal and collective. And I deepened those thoughts with what they have to do with patriarchy, and who has the onus to take on that complicity and who thinks they’re above it. I knew that I had to look at the aftermath of that complicity, and of feeling pushed into silence as Lena, the protagonist is. Your relationship to that silence can change, so I knew the novel had to take place over a bigger span of time. That was a very different challenge, to figure out how the novel had to move quickly and also jump in time in a coherent way.

Guernica: You’re very familiar with Latin American countries and politics—is that why you set it where you did?

IN: I grew up in Appalachia—my family has been there for several generations—but I find that I don’t feel freest writing about that region. And with the life I’ve had living in Chile and Brazil, and in Spanish and Portuguese, I somehow think about things in a different way. I don’t get quite as stuck. But the book isn’t explicitly set anywhere. Margaret Atwood has a really interesting piece she wrote about The Handmaid’s Tale, where she says she took from a number of incidents that were happening in other countries behind the Iron Curtain, and everything that had happened in the book had actually happened somewhere.

Guernica: I read that—none of it was outside the realm of reality.

IN: Exactly. And I would say everything else in the book is within the realm of reality. The benefit of setting a book in an unnamed, invented country is you can look at patterns. Patterns that have happened other places. Patterns in abuses of power, in power imbalances, and of patriarchal cycles of crimes without consequences. I looked at them so any reader could bring their own knowledge to them from places they’ve lived in or read about.

Guernica: Also, there’s hindsight. You’re getting to connect the dots in the present, but instead of just thinking of them as things that happened, you’re getting to use them and point out what could happen again.

IN: Yes! And I felt freer writing about it in this other place. Allowed to think about these larger patterns. All these things happen within the realm of reality, but that I could combine them and escalate them within the realm of the book.  

Guernica: Did you have a structure? How did you set this up and where did you start writing?

IN: I have an extremely inefficient approach to writing [fiction], I think because I come from poetry. If you start a poem and it doesn’t come easily to you, you just delete it and start over, or at least I do. And I tend to do that as a fiction writer, too, which means by the time I have a page I’ve probably written ten versions that I didn’t use. Sometimes I’ll know that the nugget of what I want is there on the page and then I’ll edit it, but sometimes I know I’m getting at it in the wrong way and trying to keep it would actually lead to a weaker page than if I just started it again.

Guernica: It does get to a point—I’ve certainly been there—where you know you just need to start it all over.

IN: It’s less work sometimes. I tell my students to think about a term from economics: Sunk costs. Once you’ve sunk costs into an enterprise, whether it’s a short story or a business, you don’t want it to go to nothing, so you keep pouring more energy and more effort into it. But actually more effort isn’t going to save it. It may be that this didn’t work out, and it would be better to put my effort and energy into something else rather than to keep sinking more simply because I’ve kept at it and am invested in this piece emotionally. Sometimes you keep working on something just because you already have been.

Guernica: Well, you’re mentally investing in it. You can delete the physicality of it and still have all of that mental energy that you’ve put into it and know, because you’ve already done all this work, what it needs. It doesn’t need the physical attachment to improve, at that point.

IN: It feels almost superstitious—all those versions that you do, reiterating the same thing over and over and you can’t quite get it. You have been synthesizing over and over in that previous document the kernel of what it is you want to say, so when you move to a new document, you can probably say it more powerfully and more succinctly. That’s the nice thing about working in a number of genres. You start to know yourself and how you get to your best writing.

Guernica: I like that a lot, learning yourself from various genres.

IN: I just know myself better as a writer. It’s easier to take risks because I have a sense of how to surprise myself. You have to make yourself a little uneasy to get to something new. Between having translated different writers or having written in different genres, I try to stay open to that kind of play. You can’t lose it. If there isn’t a sense of joy for the writer, there isn’t going to be one for the reader. If the material isn’t going in one way, to pull back, open a new document and say, “Okay, I’m going to try this another way.” As you said, you still have this in your mind. It’s not like it belongs to the Word document, it belongs to you. It goes with you.

I was talking to a friend today about how maybe you don’t want to wash your hair because you’re worried that all of the ideas will fall out of your head with the water. But of course, what’s in your mind stays in your mind. I do think there’s this superstitious feeling of moving between documents or blasting water on your head you’ll somehow lose what’s in your mind. Maybe that’s because we’re in a very distracted time and it feels like you can turn on your phone and lose whatever’s in your mind.

Guernica: Do you have that anxiety? That you might lose an idea and so you need to write it down?

IN: I take a lot of notes down on my phone. A lot of [Those Who Knew] I wrote when I was going to festivals for my first novel and travelling on planes. And I could not stop working on this novel. I never wrote anything with as much irrepressible urgency. I was writing it in my head, I was writing it in airports, on planes, in hotel rooms. I feel like I almost lived in this novel more than I lived where I was. It really sort of overtook me. I think to really stay in an invented place you need to give yourself over to it that way. Going to all these writer festivals and staying at hotels, it was kind of a perfect way to stay in the world of the novel. I would wake up and not know where I was. And I would say, “Of course I know where I am, I’m in the port city of my novel.” So I could just sit down in my pajamas and keep going. I think there’s a reason a lot of writers, when they get a little off track, go and stay in a hotel. It’s a special space.

Guernica: What’s your preferred method of writing?

IN: I love to write at that hour in the morning before anyone is expecting anything from you, and before you’re expecting anything from yourself. The early hour. It’s hard to accomplish because I have two children and we have a small apartment. When I was working on this novel, even though I was exhausted the rest of the day, I woke up pretty early. Around 5:30, 6:00am sometimes. Just to keep going. I really did feel this sense that I had to keep staying with these characters.

I think part of it was writing my way into Victor. It was very uncomfortable. But I felt the novel needed it, to inhabit this man, to understand how he would justify his life, how he would be emboldened by the lack of consequences. It was cathartic, oddly. The person who usually writes the narrative gets to be written by somebody else. That’s a subversive act in a way.

Guernica: As writers, I think we resist tension in our own brains, so if you have a character who feels more comfortable, like Lena or Olga or even Christina, I’m sure it was easier to go and inhabit that brain space again.

IN:  And that’s why I couldn’t stop working on it. I had to get rid of that tension I had with the story and those characters. I needed to keep going back. But I don’t think I lost that tension until well after I finished the book. It was a bit like being possessed.

Guernica: I don’t know if possession is the key to writing a great book, but you feel the energy go through this novel. Having read Ways To Disappear, I felt like there were accidentally quite a lot of similarities. I don’t know if this was your intention, but both have this mystery/thriller sort of air.

IN: I like bending genres, absolutely. With both books, I was very interested in women who go unseen. Crimes that go untried. I think the way power balances between countries and also between people is probably something I’ll always go back to.

Guernica: It’s an easy tension line to run thrings across because someone is always on one side of that power.

IN: It’s also a lens. A way to see things and understand who gets silenced and why. When you think of literature in some ways as the return of the repressed, you can think about whose truth is being repressed and how that manifests.

Guernica: Is politics something that feel necessary to you in your writing, or is it kind of unconscious?

IN: I grew up in a house where we were always talking about politics. My parents volunteered a lot. I remembered my dad writing letters for the Anti-Defamation League when I was a kid and talking about what was happening. Always reading the newspaper. Very engaged in issues of injustice. So I think I always thought that that was an imperative, to take the education and the privilege that you have in order to fight for the people who don’t have it. I just couldn’t imagine being any other kind of writer. I grew up in a way where anything you did, you would bring that sense of urgency to try and create more justice for people who don’t have it. That would have been an imperative in any field I would have gone into.

When I was in my MFA program, a teacher said to me, in poetry, “Idra, this poem is so political. I don’t know who’s interested in this kind of thing anymore.” As if addressing U.S. behavior abroad, our policies abroad, was passé. As if it only belonged to a certain decade of American poetry and we were done with it. As if we’re ever done with injustice! And I knew that was wrong.

Guernica: I think there was an abiding sense of that. I do wonder what will come out of our current climate because I think we’re finally in a space where people realize how important this writing is again.

IN: What we need is not just to read ourselves but to read what people have lived through elsewhere. People say, “Oh, what we’re living through in this country is unprecedented!” Well, it’s unprecedented for this country. But it’s not anywhere else. I think that this is maybe even a time when it’s especially important for us to engage in literature from other places and learn from it. You know, we intervened in the elections of other countries. Then another country intervened in ours—but we invented the tactic! That was our own trick coming back to haunt us. I think a lot of what is happening is coming back to haunt us from the kinds of interventions we have done elsewhere. And an important part of this book for me was the long shadow of U.S. intervention in countries all around us.

Guernica: That scene when Oscar and Lena get into a fight felt very much like a pointed critique of the United States, though not undeserving. For you, someone who is very steeped in what this country has done to other countries but yet is from this country, how does it feel to write something like that?

IN: Oscar, the northerner, came to me very early on. I realized he had to be a counter, and that his ignorance had to have some real-life consequences. I had a sense that this tourist would have to come into the novel and his wandering around in a country where his government intervened would come back to haunt him in a serious way.

That scene was really about exploring my own complicity. I was in Panama once, going to go see the Panama Canal, but it was closed because it was the day that the U.S. army had killed some Panamanian students who were protesting. And I really felt that in the deepest way, how every year they were marking the death of these students who were killed by my government and we don’t know or learn anything about that.

That’s certainly happened for me, too, living in Brazil, and these past four years I’ve been co-translating poems by an Iranian poet—that Guernica published!—Garous Abdolmalekian.

Guernica: Right. And you didn’t know Persian before?

IN: I didn’t. I sort of do the alchemy once my co-translator, Ahmad Nadalizadeh, gets a first draft. Working with Ahmad and learning about Iranian literature and history, and a lot about U.S. interventions in Iran, expanded my sense of how often in the United States we go through our entire educations without any sense of how we’ve impacted the realities of these other countries. You could go through your whole life in this country and never have any idea that this country has intervened anywhere. We just don’t make it part of our education. I wanted Oscar to embody that—to be this wandering American who has no sense of his own country’s history.

Guernica: You mentioned interest in the parable form—what part of that did you work into this book?

IN: The sense of timelessness. [I was] trying to create a place where the story is playing out concurrent with our reality, but also has been playing out all over the world for a long time. So you have a sense of this island existing in your reality always. I think that’s what a parable can do. It feels like it’s pressing up close to you but that it will always go on next to you.

Guernica: The truths of it will always be true.

IN: Yes! I didn’t expect it to coincide with what’s playing out in our national politics. And then to see it play out with someone nominated for the Supreme Court in my own country was gruesome. It’s eerie.

Guernica: The book did feel awfully prescient—so much is about holding people and power accountable. Does it feel strange that all of a sudden there is this moment of accountability happening in real life?

IN: I don’t know if full accountability has come yet; certainly not for much of the administration. It just emboldens even more egregious, dangerous behavior. And promotes facism all over the world. You look what’s happening with Bolsonaro in Brazil and Duterte in the Philippines and how our government is enabling the consolation of power in these other countries. That’s scary.

Something I haven’t talked about that I wanted to mention—there are these lakes full of pig shit in the novel, and in North Carolina after the hurricane, there were actual lakes of pig shit that overflowed. It seemed like such a rich metaphor for political corruption, and of all the times in American history for us to have overflowing pig shit lakes to be during the Trump administration—it is so apt. It seemed like art manifesting life in the literal, smelliest possible way. I’m alarmed that our country has become so surreal and hyperbolic in its egregious injustices as something you would put in a novel.

Guernica: To bring it back to Margaret Atwood, it’s nothing that is far from reality. Still, you don’t expect it to become reality. Did you have imaginations on what might have happened later?

IN: I wrote further and then pulled back. When a book doesn’t write it all out for you, you have to continue it in your head and it pulls you deeper into those characters and those questions of the novel. And it it’s tied up too neatly it’s easier to push the questions of the book away.

Guernica: Also when it ends like that, you start to fill it in yourself and realize how you actually felt about these characters. Because you were following along and in their world so deeply, and when you’re cut off from it you feel an immediate swelling of emotion that tells you how you felt about the whole.

IN: I do think when a book leads you up to a cliff you have to say, “Okay, who am I jumping with?” And grab whatever there is on that cliff and go out with as a reader. To me, that is the most gratifying experience of a novel. I think we’re in a time of great uncertainty and to end something with certainty feels maybe less emotionally true.

The post Idra Novey: Silence Is Complicity appeared first on Guernica.

A midterm election unlike others calls for new rules for electoral analysis

by Dr. G.S. Potter

LatinaLista

(Editor’s Note: The following article originally appeared at StrategyCamp)

 

The November 2018 Midterm Elections will be like no other in modern American history. We need new rules for electoral landscaping and analysis.

When approaching predictions for the 2018 Midterms, there are 3 rules that should be adhered to.

1. Do not trust the predictions of an analyst relying solely on national level data. Congressional elections require a state level analysis. National data alone is a completely inappropriate base from which to make predictions.

2. Do not trust the predictions of an analyst that do not include race. Ever.

3. Don’t think you can win an election without disabled, queer, and poor people of color.

White nationalists are running a very strategic, well organized, state level grab for the Senate. Race is central to their strategy.

The cornerstone of white nationalist electoral politics is to rile and mobilize their own white base while suppressing and neutralizing black and brown voters. The strategies they have used since their 2010 takeover of the House of Representatives have been wildly successful.

The Democratic response has…not been.

Rather than mobilize black and brown voting blocs to respond to the far-white attack, Democratic strategists have chosen to pander to white voters riding the fence between active white nationalism and passive white apologist. Instead of mobilizing their largest and most loyal voting blocs, they are continuing to silence and suppress them so as to not scare off bigoted white lefties. And instead of winning elections at the local, state, and federal levels — they are getting their asses kicked.

As the defeat of a pedophilic white supremacist candidate in deep red Alabama taught us, it is people of color that will defeat the far-white. It is black voters. It is brown voters. It is intersected voters.

White people will not defeat white supremacy. The Democrats, though, have not received that message. While rhetorically white Democrats are supportive of black and brown voters, they have yet to put the funding and resources needed to register and mobilize voters of color into the people and organizations that get that work done.

Elections don’t win themselves. And if the Democrats believe that they can count on black and brown voters turning out at the polls with little or no effort from the Democratic Party — they are going to completely lose control of not only the Senate, but the majority of their state legislative authority.

Worse, if people of color sit around waiting for the white Democrats to get their shit together, we are going to face another 2 years of the most aggressive and expansive white power attack our communities have experienced in modern history. If we lost the Senate in November, we stand to lose everything.

The November 2018 Midterm Elections: A Senate Race Primer

This primer begins with a basic tutorial on what it takes for a party to win control of the Senate. From this general foundation, we will evaluate the 2018 Midterm Elections as it relates to the battle between Republicans and Democrats today. Before jumping into a racially inclusive state-by-state analysis, we will take a brief look at how current mainstream analysts are approaching the Senate Midterm Senates — and what they see as a result.

Next, we will look at the Senate elections from the perspective of the white nationalists we face. They currently hold the advantage. They are currently waging an offensive strike. And in order to effectively defend our states, our communities, and our Senate seats from the Republican Party, we need to see what they see. And we need to counter it.

Finally, once we clear away the faulty analytics and tune into white nationalist tactics we are defending against, we will walk through the 2018 Senate Midterm Elections using methods designed to show Democrats of color a pathway to victory.

It is a path the Republicans see already. It is a path that scares them into spending hundreds of millions of dollars in legal (and illegal) attempts to prevent it. It is a path that can lead people of color into a state of empowerment that ensures that white nationalists will not only lose the 2018 elections, but every single election thereafter.

And we need to take it.

The Basics: How Does a Senate Race Work:

This is a map of the United States. All 50.

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Each state is granted 2 Senators, for a total of 100.

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In the case of a tie, the Vice President serves as the 101 first vote.

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In order to control Congress, a party must be able to secure 51 of these 101 positions. (100 Congressional Seats + Vice President)

Currently, the Republicans control Congress. They hold 51 Congressional seats and the office of the Vice Presidency.

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That brings us to the November 2018 Midterm Senate Elections.

The November 2018 Midterm Senate Election Specifics

Out of the 100 Senate Seats, there are 65 that do not have to be defended in an election this November. The Democrats have 23 of those seats, the Republicans hold 42.

That means that in the race for 51 seats (including the Vice President), the Republicans will have a 43 to 23 advantage.

35 seats are up for grabs in November.

The Republicans have to protect 9 seats. The Democrats have to protect 26 seats.

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The Republicans are starting with 43 of 51 seats they need to maintain control of the Senate. They only have to hold on to 8 seats and can lose one without losing the majority.

The Democrats are starting with 23 of the 51 seats needed to take back the Senate. They need to successfully defend all 26 seats just to ensure they keep the 49 seats they currently hold. In order to win the overall Senate race, they will also need to flip 2 red seats.

In total, the Democrats need to win 28 races. The Republicans need to win 8.

What Current Mainstream Analysts See

The predictions made by mainstream media analysts agree on two things:

1. The political tone of the country overall is increasingly Blue.

2. The political state-by-state map of the Senate is Red.

There is no mainstream analytical outlet that provides a state by state analysis that predicts the Blue Wave is strong enough to take back control of the Senate. And if you look at the November elections through a whites-only lens — it’s easy to see why the can think that.

What White People See for the Republicans

The Republicans are running 9 races. Under traditional, white-centric methods of analysis, there is only one Red state in danger of flipping to Blue. That state is Nevada. With one to lose and a number of flappable blue states, the GOP is positioned to completely takeover the Senate. According to white people. And anyone that uses their methods of analysis.

The remaining 8 seats are held in 7 Red states that are considered to be safe. They are Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, Arizona, and Mississippi.*

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Utah, Nebraska, and Wyoming are considered deeply Red, and deeply white states. They overwhelmingly voted for Trump in 2016 and the vast majority of their state and local elections are handed to Republicans.

Tally: 42 no election+1 VP Vote+3 Red = 46. 5 more to win.

Mississippi has two seats up for grabs. And despite a black population that’s closing in on 40%, the Magnolia state is considered to be safely under Republican control. (Comparatively, Alabama’s black population is just over 25%)

Tally: 46 + 2 = 48. 3 to win.

With only 3 states left to win, there are 4 red seats left to hold. They are Tennessee, Nevada, Texas, and Arizona. Analysts predict that Nevada will turn Blue, but Tennessee will remain Red. And while Texas and Arizona are minority-majority brown states, analysts predict that these brown states will remain under white nationalist control.

Tally: 48 + 3 = 51. Republicans win.

Based on this analysis alone — without regard for the number of Blue seats that stand to be lost in November — it is reasonable to predict that the Republican party will walk away with control of the Senate. It’s still worth looking at what analysts are predicting for white Democrats, though, so we don’t fall victim to the same mistakes.

What White People See for the Democrats

The Democrats are running 26 races. 16 of them are in 15 safely Democratic states. 10 are up for grabs. They are Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

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The Democrats will need to win all 26 races to keep the 49 seat minority they have now. To take control of the Senate, need to flip an additional 2 red seats.

As already described, while analysts predict that Nevada will flip form red to blue, all other Red seats are considered to be safe. They also predict that North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia, and Florida are in direct danger of turning Red. And that Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Montana are not safe.

According to mainstream projections, the Democrats need to successfully defend 26 seats, flip Nevada, and 1 other Red state to take control of the Senate. The Republicans can lose 1 of 9 Senate races and still win.

The Problem with White Analysis

In a nation where close to 40% of the population does not identify as white, and under an administration that has blatantly targeted people of color as enemies of a white nation — white analysts can’t find a mathematical equation in which the Republican party loses at the polls.

That’s either because white people aren’t looking hard enough, or they aren’t looking at all.

The 2018 Midterms Elections are nothing other than a vote for or against white supremacy. And while white analysts are reporting on white behaviors and replicating white biases, this election cannot be properly analyzed without the formal inclusion of the voting blocs most affected and harmed by white supremacists — people of color.

As a result, the predictions presented above are completely useless to people of color. The methods used are unreliable. They are invalid. And in terms of mobilizing “minority” voting blocs, they are complete trash. So throw them away.

Faulty Analysis Leads to Faulty Strategies

Political analysis is important because it informs strategic decision-making. If the methods and presentation of analysis is faulty, they can translate into strategic mistakes that are fatal.

For example, using a white-centric lens, the Democrats have placed their focus on holding white states and leaving black and brown states and their communities to fend for themselves.

The Democratic Party has yet to put in the work to ensure the electoral mechanisms needed to get black and brown voters to the polls are active and functioning. There is no united rhetorical defense of the communities of color under white nationalist attack. And there is no evidence in the Democratic platform that any of the demands made by leaders in these communities will be included in their 2018 platforms.

Fatal. Mistakes.

Instead, Democrats are focusing on holding white states and trying to appease white voting blocs by using moderate white messaging and a moderate white agenda promoted by white centrist and conservative Democrats.

This is the same strategy they used when they lost the 2016 Presidential Election and every single Senate election since 2014 and every single House election since 2010. There was no reason to believe these strategies would work then, and there is even less of a reason to believe that these strategies will work now.

These mistakes are as avoidable as they are fatal, but only if voters of color are placed at the center of the Democratic party.

The Power of the People

People of color, statistically speaking, are close to overtaking white people in the United States. This is white nationalist’s greatest fear, and our greatest strength as a nation. It is also our greatest strategic advantage as a party — especially in the November 2018 Midterm Elections.

Two states, Texas and Nevada, are already minority-majority. And an additional 3 red states — Mississippi, Nevada, and Arizona — have populations of color that exceed 40%. Translated into the language of electoral politics — 6 of the 9 seats that white nationalists need to defend are in state where Democrats of color dramatically outnumber white Republicans.

And white nationalists know this.

Know Your Enemy: What White Nationalists See

White nationalists under the direction of individuals such as Robert Mercer, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Jeff Sessions currently control all three branches of government. They have the most power. They get to make the first moves. That means strategically, people of color are currently on the defensive.

In order to understand how we can out-strategize white supremacists, we have to know what they are thinking. And they are thinking that if black and brown people vote, they will lose control of this nation forever.

This is the one thing — and the only thing — we can all agree on.

What White Nationalists See for Republicans

White nationalists use extremely race sensitive analytical tools when designing their electoral strategies. They want white conservatives to win. They want everyone else to lose. And they especially want people of color to lose.

In terms of the Senate Elections, they have 42 states that are free from elections and 8 states that are up for grabs.

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Out of these 8 states, there are 4 that are overwhelmingly white: Utah, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Tennessee. But there are 5 seats in 4 states where black and brown voters could destroy their chances of victory if they are not stopped from voting in the 2018 election: Mississippi, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.

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With a starting point of 43 of the 51 seats needed to keep control the Senate, the white nationalists need to hold the 4 white states up for grabs. That would bring them to 47 of 51.

They would then need to win 4 of the remaining 5 seats available to maintain a numerical advantage in the Senate. All of them are in black and brown territory.

Nevada is already expected to flip, and if the Latino voting blocs are mobilized in Texas and Arizona — white nationalists would lose control of all of their brown states.

If the black voting blocs are mobilized in Mississippi, then the white nationalists would lose control of 2 additional Senate seats.

Should white nationalists lose these states, and fail to flip any blue seats, the Democrats would take control of Congress with 54 seats to the Republicans’ 46. (not including the VP)

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What White Nationalists Are Doing to Respond

White nationalists are not on solid ground, and they know it. They must not only defend their white nationalist agenda in conservative white states, but they must simultaneously attack Democratic strongholds in efforts to flip Democratic seats from Blue to Red.

Their most frequently used strategies are voter suppression and voter neutralization.

White supremacists can’t win elections if people of color are allowed to vote at the same rates as white people. The Republican Party and its affiliate organizations and think tanks have spent billions of dollars designing, passing, and implementing strategies designed to keep people of color away from the polls. And amongst the most popular and effective methods of voter suppression are gerrymandering, voter purging, voter ID laws, polling place closures, and felony disenfranchisement. These methods alone have specifically prevented over 30 million people of color from being able to exercise their Constitutional right to vote.

Still, victories led by voters of color in deep red territories such as Alabama have shown that these efforts are not necessarily enough. In addition to voter suppression, voter neutralization efforts are necessary.

There are a number of reasons that people of color do not exercise their right to vote that extend beyond voter suppression. For example, one of the most commonly stated reasons individuals give for not casting a ballot is: Both parties are the same.

People of color are correct when they say that either party has done anything to make their lives tangibly better. However, they are not correct when they say both parties are the same. At the federal level, the Democrats commit sims of omission. They refuse to act in support of or on behalf of people of color when they can, and they should. White nationalists, on the other hand, are on the attack.

In order to blur these lines, though, white nationalists are using public figures like Kanye West and Killer Mike to carry a white power rhetoric using political blackface. They are pardoning individuals like Jack Johnson and claiming that they will stop brown immigrants from stealing black jobs. They aren’t doing anything to tangibly make the lives of black Americans better, but they are exploiting moments of optical solidarity to confuse the electorate.

They are not doing this in efforts to mobilize black voters to vote Republican. We know this because they continue to suppress black votes through purging, voter ID requirements, and other suppressive measures. Their goal is to ensure that those that can be convinced not to vote by suggesting both parties are the same. And it’s an effective strategy if not properly countered.

White nationalists are targeting the Latino population by ramping up Nazi-like tactics such as separating families at the border and deporting immigrants en masse. In effort to continue purging the Unties States of brown people (and future brown voters) while avoiding consequences for their actions at the polls in minority-majority border states, white nationalists are blaming the Democratic party for these attacks and taking credit for trying to fix them.

And just as with black voters, the goal is not to open the Republican party to the Latino voting bloc. The goal is to keep enough brown voters away from the polls that they can continue to hold red seats in brown states despite a blatantly white nationalist agenda. If the Democrats do not counter their efforts to suppress and neutralize voters of color, these white nationalist strategies will guide the outcome of the 2018 Midterm Elections.

What White Nationalists See for Democrats

The Democrats are running 26 races.

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11 of them are in safely white liberal territories: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, Virginia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Washington, and Minnesota*.

5 of them are in safely black, brown, and mixed states: California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and New Mexico.

With a base of 23 seats that will not face elections and an additional 16 seats safely resting in Blue states, the Democrats will have to 38 of the 51 seats they need to take control of the Senate. Just to maintain the 49-seat minority they have now, though, they will have to defend 10 states that are in danger.

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5 Blue Senate seats are in white dominated states where Democrats will not have voting blocs of color to pull them through to victory. They are West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Montana.

5 Senate seats are in states where black and brown voting blocs could completely upend the election. They are Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

The Republicans are projected to lose Nevada. If they are able to hold their remaining 8 seats and nothing else changes — both parties will hold 50 Senate seats and the white nationalists maintain the tie breaking vote with the Vice President. If the Republicans are able to flip any Democratic seats, they will be able to build their control of the Senate while white nationalists build their control over people of color.

The Senate Election in White and Black….and Brown

Lets’ start from the beginning. There are 100 Senate seats total. In case of a tie, the Vice President (who is currently a Republican) casts the deciding vote.

Out of the 100 Senate Seats, there are 65 that do not have to be defended in the 2018 Midterm elections in November. The Democrats control 23 and the Republicans control 42.

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35 seats are up for grabs. 9 of them are Republican. 26 are Democrat.

In the race for 51 seats (including the Vice Presidency), the Republicans will have a 43 to 23 advantage.

To take control of the Senate, the Democrats need to win 28 races. The Republicans need to win 8.

Of the 9 Republican Seats:

4 are in predominantly white states: Tennessee, Utah, Nebraska, Wyoming

3 are in predominantly brown states: Texas, Arizona, and Nevada

2 are in on state with a black population large enough to take control of the government: Mississippi

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Of the 26 Democratic Seats:

Of the 26 Democratic seats up for grabs, 16 seats are safe: California, Washington, New Mexico, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota*

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10 states are on shaky ground. 7 are dominated by white voters: Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Ohio, Missouri. 3 are in states where black and brown voters can decide the outcomes of each election. They are Michigan, Florida, and Pennsylvania

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Eliminate the white states momentarily. That leaves us with 3 Democratic seats and 4 Republican seats in states where voting blocs of color dramatically outnumber white Republican voting blocs.

4 of the Senate seats up for grabs are in Black territory. (Mississippi*, Pennsylvania, Michigan). 4 are in brown territory. (Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Texas).

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With a base of 26, if Democrats hold their 16 solid seats and win the 8 senate races in black and brown territory, that would bring them to a total of 50 seats. They would only need 1 more win to take control of the Senate.

On the other side of the aisle, if the Republicans lost control of all of their Black and Brown states, they would walk away with only 46 Senate seats plus the vote of the Vice President, unless they are able to flip at least 4 states from Blue to Red.

They Work Isn’t Done Yet, Folks: Crips, Queers, and Poor Folks

If the Democrats focus on only black voters or only brown voters, they will not be able to defend their seats in states where minority voting blocs are significant, but comprised of multiple races (Missouri, Ohio, and Indiana) or races held in predominantly white states (Montana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin).

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In a twisted whim of fortune, though, white nationalists don’t only attack people of color. They also attack other populations they consider inferior. These populations include people from the LGBTQ communities, people with disabilities, and the poor.

The mobilization of these voting blocs by November are vital for two strategic reasons:

1. No fewer than 30–40% of populations of color are intersected with populations of disabled, queer and\or poor people. If efforts aren’t made to reach out to and mobilize poor people of color, disabled people of color, and queer people of color then they will not be able to secure enough votes to dominate the White Nationalist party.

2. In white states where Democrats are battling to defend Senate seats, mobilizing people with disabilities, people from the LGBTQ communities, and poor voters could increase their pool of potential voters by another 30–40%. For example, in West Virginia, 20% of the population is living with disabilities and even more are living in households in which at least on person has a disability. Between 4 and 10 percent of the population identifies openly as part of the LGBTQ community. Another 13% of people live below the poverty line.

If the Democrats commit to an agenda in which people with disabilities, poor people and folks from the LGBTQ community feel defended, they can dramatically increase their share of both white voting blocs and voting blocs of color. This will take the activation of networks and individuals in these communities that have previously been excluded from the electoral process.

If we fully activate the voting blocs of people of color, people with disabilities, poor people, the LGBTQ communities, and most importantly those living at their intersections — we can see a pathway to victory for the Democratic Party that is as clear as it is colorful.

What We Need to Do to Make it Happen

The strategies that are needed to get voters to the polls vary by community because the efforts made to prevent them from reaching the polls are often designed to target specific communities. Defense must respond to offense.

Black Voters

Black voter registration campaigns have been so successful that registration numbers are approaching those of white voters. Registration efforts still need to expand and continue, but the real issue facing black voters is getting them to the ballot box on voting day. Democrats have failed to properly outreach to black communities and refused to put items on their agendas that directly respond to their needs in general, and in the face of attacks from the Trump Administration. Democrats have also failed to send resources and support to black community media outlets and organizational networks that can mobilize voters in their community and help them cast a ballot.

Alabama taught us the strength of the black vote, but it was a close call. The Democrats cannot afford to force black individuals and organizations to foot the bill financially and energetically and hope to pull out a last-minute victory. They need to start moving immediately.

Brown Voters

Latino voters are the largest minority voting bloc and, considering the Nazi-like attacks on immigrant children and families, they might have the most at stake. Unlike with black and white voters, Democratic outreach and registration campaigns have not been designed to reach Spanish speaking Latino populations. As a result, white and black registration rates are in the upper 60th and 70th percentiles, Latino registration rates are an abysmal 59%.

This is for 2 reasons. The first reason is that, much like with their black voting blocs, the Democrats have not produced an outreach strategy or political platform that is designed to meet the needs and demands of Latino communities. The second reason is painfully simple: they do not produce enough educational or informational outreach materials in Spanish.

The battle for brown states and mixed states dependent on Spanish speaking voters will be won and lost on registration day.

The Other Others

Finally, it will take the mobilization of people with disabilities, people from the LGBTQ community, and poor folks to ensure that the number of voters necessary to take complete control of the Senate are able to cast a ballot. These communities not only represent white minorities that can be mobilized to secure victories against Republicans in white states, but they are intersected with communities of color in such a way that we cannot re-enfranchise communities of color without also reenfranchising the disabled, poor, and LGBTQ voting blocks that form their most solid and undefended bases.

If we empower those targeted most directly by the white nationalist party to defend themselves at the polls this November, there is no chance that the white nationalist minority can hold control of the Senate — or the nation. If we empower the targets of white nationalism to fight back at the polls, we can expect a map in which black, brown, blue, and all of the colors of the rainbow overtake the spread of bigotry and racism.

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If we fail to mobilize the communities most violently targeted by the Trump Administration and the white nationalist Republican Party, the nation will not be red or blue on November 7, 2018. It will be white.

To learn more about Dr. GS Potter and the Strategic Institute for Intersectional Policy (SIIP), visit: http://strategycampsite.org/v2/

On The Eve of Dona Nobis Pacem in the Blogosphere

It is the eve of Dona Nobis Pacem in the Blogosphere; otherwise known as BlogBlast For Peace.
On Sunday November 4th, bloggers and webmasters and status-keepers everywhere will lay their pens down on white paper and social pages to write peace.  Bloggers will use keyboards, singers will sing songs, artists will draw and paint, some will dance and some will preach.  All will tell a story. It’s what peace bloggers do. 
Let’s brew a hot cup of tea and have a chat. Peace weekend has begun!
As tradition holds, here’s the story of The Doll Box as told on this blog many years ago. As was his usual custom, Papa visited one bright sunny morning and reminded me of the dusty old box. I expect him to direct me straightway into another tale come tomorrow morning. We’ll have to wait and see what transpires between my world and his. 
This is the story of The Doll Box.

 I wrote this peace post for the November 2007 BlogBlast For Peace in Papa’s honor. His stories are an integral part of this movement. It has become tradition for me to share them with you during Peace Week.
And for some reason on this chilly November night as I wait for another launch of peace globes, I can almost hear him speak and hover about, waiting right along with the rest of us.  The dolls must be shared once again.
 So Papa….I miss you. I love you.  Speak.

  

The Doll Box


“Put them in the pot, Mimi, just that way.”



I planted the last Black-Eyed Susan in the clay pot on the deck, richly purple, and staring at me with an eye in the center of royalty’s colored fall beauty. I dug and rearranged and poured in fertilizer. Watered. Played in the dirt.

My Papa stood looming over me with that jovial smile of his, a burst of sunlight behind his balding head and a brightly gleaming twinkle in the midst of the smile I adored. I was still unbalanced with a trowel in one hand and a pile of dirt in the other which prevented me from jumping immediately into his arms, but it didn’t seem to matter; a warm wind blew straight through the curl hanging down the front of my right shoulder and moved it behind me to rest on the back of my sweater. I was sure of it. My Papa was always telling me to get my hair out of my face. No surprise to me now.

pansystorypublicdomainlindarosendahl.jpg“Plant one more in the pot, Mimi. She’d like it that way.”

“They remind me of her,” I said out loud. “The dark ones she loved best. The Black-Eyed ones I don’t care for, but I plant them anyway because she loved them so. I think they look disheveled and untidy – if a flower can be that way – and as she could be in the morning times. Her hair a mess and a cigarette over coffee, frying bacon at 5am so that you’d have a great start to your day, wrinkled robe and a smelly kitchen. One bright spot of colorful charm – like my Black Eyed Susan – was you, Papa.”

I stopped planting and looked up.



“I’ve been watching you, Mimi.”
I laughed.

“Well you know she had to have things just right. Two purple here, one pink there, large petaled, small-petaled and a very straight row or you had to start all over.”


He laughed.

“I remember.”

I fixed my eyes upon the face of the man who held the key to my heart ever since the day I took my first breath. I put the trowel down, the dirt fell from my fingers and I found myself sitting in the fall sunlight, listening to leaves drop playfully from the trees that surrounded me. I watched them fall almost on command at his overgrown feet that were firmly planted in front of me.  
Steel-toe shoes, huge shoes, painful shoes.
Important shoes.

  It would take him forty-five minutes in the mornings before work to lace them up. Rheumatoid arthritis claimed his quality of life, pain a constant companion, everyday tasks a monumental chore – and yet he rarely missed work (thirty-three years in a furniture plant) and most days he tilled the garden out back in the evenings. For today, I was content to sit at his feet and plant flowers. He was there to give me a warm breezy hug. Of course I knew he wasn’t really there.

Was he?


Resigned to never again help him unlace the knotted shoestrings that strangled too too tightly across his tender feet, I turned to wipe a tear. I miss him still.


 I’ve been watching you – you and the peace globes,” he said.
I smiled and stood up. He was right.
Pansies could wait. 

“I know, Papa. I’ve known for some time. You always give me courage when I need it, inspiration when I’ve lost it and the biggest laughs….I get the most joy from your far-flung sense of humor. It is always with me.”

 He roared a belly laugh I thought I’d never hear again this side of Heaven. It nearly rocked me off balance, causing me to drop the flat of pansies on the deck…..

pansystoryredaa.jpg
so deep it was, so rich.
So Papa.
pansystoryred.jpg
And then I realized that I was staring straight into the face of providence. Or ghostly luck. Don’t stumble now, Mimi…..I need to ask you! Papa! I have so much to ask you. I don’t know what to do about…..
Will you stay?” 


I’ve been watching you, Mimi,” he said with that tsk tsk expression, “I need to ask you a question.” 
I sat down again, wondering if I’d done something wrong. He sounds serious. Does he want to talk about the marbles? Yes, that must be it. The marbles. He wants to tell me how he made them. He’ll tell me and I’ll tell my readers and they’ll tell people and he’ll explain it all. 
I waited.



I remember – oh I remember – how they adored one another
And now they were both gone.


I had her pansy pots and her azalea bush and her quirkiness. He had memories not to be shared with a granddaughter but sacred scenes I saw playing behind the youthful grin. I did not let on. But I knew there were stories he must – he surely must – somewhere, somewhere – still share with her.  

Ask, Papa. I’ll tell you anything you want to know,” digging a new opening in the dirt for one more yellow pansy. 
I just wanted to see him smile again.


“But why, Mimi…..why do you need so many?”


“Because she said if you planted enough of them really close together it would make the bouquet brighter and ….”

I sighed. Doesn’t he understand?
pansystorypurple.jpg


No, Mimi. Why do you need so many peace globes?”

I stopped digging.
“I don’t NEED them, Papa, they just keep coming. From everywhere. There are so many I can’t get them all  planted…er…counted. In the mail and through the strangest streets. Back alleys, front pages, small blogs, large blogs, no blogs.  In the middle of the night. In the morning. In the evenings. All colors, all creeds, all walks of life. All species, all reasons. Some humorously made, some seriously woven and others with a single signature. Those I like, too.” 
He sighed. 

Had I disappointed him?

What does he want me to say?

If there’s one thing about my Papa that was always the best thing, it was his deliberate ability to cut through my facade and get to the truth – usually without a word and never with a scold. Any serious conversation he made with me always came on the palpable presence of one who loved me unconditionally. I never doubted his intent for my good or his wish for my clear understanding. Laden with well-worn common sense wisdom, I soaked it up often, playing carefully at his painfully laced shoes which criss-crossed in front of me on the living room floor at the bottom of the green leather recliner he loved. And today, I felt much like that seven-year-old.
Papa had one more story to tell.


“Do you remember the dolls, Mimi? The 100 Dolls?”

” Oh yes, Papa. I still have them. I keep them in the box for safekeeping. They are in perfect condition though the box is yellowed now and torn on the edge. I still see your address, your name, the paid postage stamp and the tape.”




He suddenly got a serious look.   

“I remember the day you asked me for them. We were thumbing through a catalog and you squealed with delight. ‘One hundred dolls!! How could 100 dolls come in one box?’ you asked.” 
dollbox.jpg


“I remember,” I said. “They costs one dollar and we had to send away for them all the way to New Jersey and add our postage fee. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to get them in the mail. I think I was seven? Yes, just about that age.” 


“Open them, Mimi. They hold a secret. Open the box.”

 I went inside to get the box. I’m writing this story at my usual perch at the table trying to recapture on paper what other-worldly thing has just happened in my pansy world. In my mind’s eye I am still there, on the porch with my Papa and we are planting pansies and the sun is hot and the leaves are falling. My pen is flowing and I don’t want to leave. We are having such a lovely day. All is right and he has chosen to visit me now. I don’t want to break the spell. I don’t want to open the box…but it is there in front of me on the table.


I picked it up, put my reading glasses on trying to make out the fine print. I reach for a magnifying glass to help but for some reason, I put it down. I couldn’t. I couldn’t look. I just couldn’t. If I do as he asked then my time with him will be over and I can’t stand the thought of that.  


And when have you ever been able to disobey him? Never. And when have you ever disappointed him? Sometimes. And will you do that today? No.
 I picked it up again. 


Bulk Rate. US Postage Paid. Newark, N.J. Permit No.4396.


100 Dolls Dept R
285 Market Street
Newark, N.J


What’s so special about this old box of dolls? They’re plastic and probably a few are missing. Pink. Flimsy. Tiny little things.


Not at all like I…..


Right,” said Papa, “you were disappointed when they arrived a few weeks later. I could see it in your face. I never forgot how cute it was when you said, 
NOW I know how they got so many dolls in one box. They don’t look like the picture in the magazine at all. They are very small and I think I might even break them.” 

So you sat at the kitchen table night after night and lined them up. Trying to figure out which was a cook and which was a nurse and which was a girl and which was a boy. I told you that they all have a face and they all have a voice, even if they are on the small side.  You made up stories to go with them and then, once you’d brought them to life, there was a sadness about the way you stored them away.
Back in the box. Back in the box. Always back in the box.”


He shook his head.

This was not going to be easy. What does he want me to see? There won’t be an obvious blue world-globe-like-marble sitting there this time. We’re talking about prissy dolls for a prissy girl who turned into a prissy woman who has no idea why she’s crying at her keyboard in the middle of this unfinished story. 


Until……

I decided to open the box.
dollsinboxc4.jpg

And there it was. 

Something I’d forgotten about. On top of my dolls in the lower right corner was a matchbox size toy. He’d sent away for that too. It came with my dolls. 
Tricky Dogs. They were magnets. One white dog. One black dog. When you start to play with them they always gravitate toward each other. After forty years the magnet is still strong. I turned them over in my hands and read the back of the box. 



Directions: Place one Tricky Dog on a surface (polished wood or glass) Push the other Tricky Dog up to it from behind, or sweep the second Tricky Dog in a half circle around the first one. Watch them twirl!
dollsboxdogsclose.jpg
My tabletop is made of glass. I took the black one and put him up front, made a sneak attack by the white one and voila! the black dog began to spin in a circle – in an energetic frenzy – and aligned itself with the other one smashing into him, wagging their magnetic tails and gravitating together: smooching, the way only magnets can. When I was little, most often I played with the dolls, but Papa……he would gently nudge me to lay aside the Barbie doll brain and chase my dream in another direction. He was like that. Always dropping life lessons in my lap, at inopportune times like today, when I am planting pansies.

I laughed. I’d forgotten the hours of entertainment we’d had trying to make the dogs do something else. I tried to separate them so many times. So like me to want to argue with electrons and atoms – but they always ended up smacking into each other with a dog collision. Inevitable. Worked every time.
Without fail.


The globes, Papa. They all spin their own way and yet they eventually make their way towards one another, spinning together.  The globes, Papa….they all spin with one purpose. 

Is that right?”
He smiled.


Now my grownup mind understands such things. I know there really is no trick. I know they’re just heavily plastered metal toys with magnet skates on the bottom – but I’m not a grownup today. I’m a seven-year-old on the floor with my Papa and we are playing from the box he mail ordered for me in the 1960s. And I am laughing. The dogs – and the dolls – and Papa….still make me laugh. 

I sighed. This observation is just too obvious. Magnets. Globes. Spinning earth balls. Earth Science. I get it! I turned to him with a knowing look and said, 

“I know all about this little analogy. I went to college and got a degree since you’ve been gone ya know. And anyway, I need to finish planting these pansies and get them all in a straight line the way she would….the way she would….Papa?”
Papa? 



He was gone. 

And I was left with a tabletop full of little pink dolls piled on top of each other, delighted to be free of the box, criss-crossed in a pink maze, laid crosswise in the jumbled life of another doll, too many for a seven-year-old to count, too tiny for a middle-aged woman to see in great detail and somehow I knew they’d been waiting for just this hour to make their second debut into my life. Pink. Plastic. Fragile. Soft spoken. Small. And yet when I put them all together they make an enormous pile. 


Like my globes. 

“Why Mimi? Why? Why do you need so many?”



 I never answered his question. That must be why he left. I suppose he is angry with me. I’ll have to tell him another time about the blogger from Hong Kong and the man from Singapore and how Idaho met Japan and tomorrow Italy promised to email Turkey……Israel and Poland and Tennessee and how Michigan is helping Ireland make a globe and it doesn’t matter how small their blogs may be they all have a face and all have a voice and they just want to speak their….oh, never mind. 
 Hmmm…It’s been forty years and I still haven’t played with all those dolls.
No time like the present. 
dollscloser.jpg

So I took them out of the box.
One by one.

A nurse, a dancer, an Indian man, two clowns, Spanish people, a ballerina, a little girl, a man speaking, a roping cowboy, a smiling cowgirl, a Buddhist monk, a Chinese man, a Mexican hat dancer, a Gypsy girl playing a tambourine, Bolero dancers, Little Bo Peep, all nationalities, all creeds, all expressions, all costumes of origin and a world of imagination at my fingertips that now played alone without the fumbling arthritic hand of the man who gave them to me so long ago…….a Peruvian girl, a small child playing ball, a colonial doll with a full skirt taking a bow (My favorite. She bowed a lot in those pre-pencil skirt days). 

I remembered how his hands were so large and gnarled, fumbling with the small creatures as they fell in his lap. I would laugh and we would start the dance again. The Buddha man would twirl with the Peruvian woman while the little boy with the ball – perhaps it was a jack-in-the-box – sat quietly in the middle of it all. They all got along in my peaceful box universe. 

The dolls in my box lived in one world, dancing and spinning around.


I’ll get that for you, Papa,” I said. “The lady from Spain would like to dance with the Russian ballerina now if you don’t mind….Papa!?”





I looked up from the land of pink twirling peace and saw a tear roll down his cheek to land on his steel-toed shoes. I could tell he longed for our pink doll world of friendly global dancers and I so wanted to never see him sad again.  



“My life went sailing by,” he said, “like a thin silk pansy leaf falling on the wisp of a breeze. I blinked and it was gone. Not much older than you are today. So much left to do. So much left to say. Many more flowers to plant. Stars to catch. More dances to dance. My work was not done…But you knew that, didn’t you, Mimi?”
I did?
“All I know, Papa, is that I wasn’t there that day. I canceled our outing and you left without me. You and grandmother went to the doctor and after that day I never saw you again. Not ever again. I was angry because you did not say goodbye. I was angry that I did not say goodbye. And I longed to tell you all my tales and all my stories through the years. I’ve waited for you to tell me what to do.” 

 I put the dolls down and looked at his wisdom worn face, anxious for the answers I needed. But he had a way of making me figure it out for myself. This day was no different.  

“You do not need me to tell you what to do. I am proud of you and you are doing just fine. Just remember one thing: It takes all the dolls in the box to make the world a beautiful place, Mimi. They can’t hear what the other has to say unless you introduce them to one another and set their feet to dancing. 

 

Take them out of the box.
dollbox3.jpg
“Just take them out of the box.” 


That’s it? That’s the secret? Take them out of the box? But what about the globes? And the marbles? I jumped up to give him a hug the way I always did but he was gone.
Again. 

 In the bottom of the box I found a piece of yellow paper. It had my name on it, folded, in my grandmother’s handwriting. I opened it. It was a speech I’d made in church for a Christmas program when I was three  years old. He’d tucked it away in the bottom of my doll box. I smiled as I remembered that the best part of that day had been running down the church aisle and jumping into his white-sleeved arms for a hug and a kiss. If I ever doubted what my grandfather gave to me, and continues to instill in me even now, it is the simple power of love and a respect for all creatures large and small…
pink and Peruvian.


And that, my friends, is all we need.

pansystorydollbox5.jpg



*********



The Doll Box was written for  BlogBlast For Peace in November 2007. It is now time for Dona Nobis Pacem in the Blogosphere 2018. I never know what I’m going to write until the last minute. Some strange sort of sensation hits me about the stroke of midnight on the eve of each launch.That’s when Papa shows up, nudges my memory and honors me with a story.

First it was marbles, then pansies and dolls
And one year he told me a love story.
I wonder what he’ll have to say on Saturday…or if he’ll come at all. 
Maybe I’d better get some sleep. 
It could be a long – very long – night.


Reason #4 to Blog4Peace: The magic of dolls. And love. And dolls. And love.

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Treaties That Ended The Cold War

In the late 1980’s the US and the USSR made several treaties to limit weapons of mass destruction……and 30+ years later those treaties are falling apart….

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) was probably the Alliance’s most important and secretive institution during the Cold War. Notably, it worked out NATO members’ joint strategy and tactics for using non-strategic nuclear weapons in a possible all-European war with the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. Such a confrontation seemed all too possible—and sometimes almost inevitable—during acute crisis situations that brought the Cold War opponents to the brink in 1949, 1956, 1962, 1973 and 1983. In the last of the aforementioned crises, tensions spiked as the United States deployed nuclear-tipped land-based cruise missiles as well as medium-range Pershing II ballistic missiles on the territory of several European NATO allies to counter the threat of the deployment of hundreds of Soviet SS-20 nuclear intermediary missiles known in Russia as Pioneer. The Soviets produced over 800 Pioneer missiles, and each carried a heavier payload than the Pershing IIs; but their U.S. counterparts were stealthier and much more accurate.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/10/10/agreements_that_ended_the_cold_war_are_disintegrating_113882.html

The INF Treaty, what is it?

https://www.state.gov/t/avc/trty/102360.htm

One of the main treaties from those days was the INF Treaty…..Trump with the urging of Bolton is thinking about withdrawing from this treaty….

Years of US allegations that Russia is violating the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) may be coming to a head, with John Bolton reportedly pushing hard for President Trump to withdraw outright from the pact.

Instead of negotiating over the questions, Bolton wants the US to just withdraw outright, despite that being a major escalation on tensions with Russia. State Department and Pentagon officials are both opposed to this.

The administration was to have talks on Monday to discuss Bolton’s idea, but this has been postponed, at least for now. Still, Congress is also pushing for action on Russia, as part of general hostility toward Russia.

(antiwar.com)

Trump has made it official and pulled out of the treaty……

President Donald Trump said Saturday he will pull the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty because Russia has violated the agreement. The 1987 pact, which helps protect the security of the U.S. and its allies in Europe and the Far East, prohibits the United States and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles. “Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years,” Trump said after a rally in Elko, Nevada, per the AP. “And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.” The agreement has constrained the US from developing new weapons, but America will begin developing them unless Russia and China agree not to possess or develop the weapons, Trump said.

“We’ll have to develop those weapons, unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say let’s really get smart and let’s none of us develop those weapons, but if Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it, and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable,” he said. National Security Adviser John Bolton was headed Saturday to Moscow to meet with senior Russian officials at a time when Moscow-Washington relations remain frosty over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and upcoming US midterm elections. US officials have previously alleged that Russia violated the treaty by deliberately deploying a land-based cruise missile in order to pose a threat to NATO.

Yet another international treaty the Trump thinks he can throw away….And of course Russia will have something to say…..

A day after President Trump announced his intention to scrap a landmark arms control deal with Russia, the Kremlin called the pullout “a very dangerous step.” Trump is sending national security adviser John Bolton to Moscow to meet with Russian leaders, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, and was to relay Trump’s decision. Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as telling state news agency Tass on Sunday that a US withdrawal “will cause the most serious condemnation from all members of the international community who are committed to security and stability.” The 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty bars the US and Russia from possessing, producing, or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 miles to 3,400 miles, reports the AP.

Britain said it stood “absolutely resolute” with the US, while Germany called Trump’s move “regrettable.” Heiko Maas said Sunday that the three-decades-old treaty is “an important pillar of our European security architecture.” Maas says Germany has repeatedly urged Moscow to “clear up the serious allegations of breaching the INF treaty, which Russia has so far not done.” He says Germany is urging Washington to “consider the possible consequences” of its decision, including for a US-Russian nuclear disarmament treaty beyond 2021. But Britain’s defense secretary, Gavin Williamson, blamed Russia for making a “mockery” of the pact and called on the Kremlin to “get its house in order.” Independent Russian political analyst, Dmitry Oreshkin said, “We are slowly slipping back to the situation of cold war as it was at the end of the Soviet Union, but now it could be worse because (Russian President Vladimir) Putin belongs to a generation that had no war under its belt.”

Once again Our Dear Supreme Leader has taken it upon himself to make the world a little less safe…..nukes unregulated not a very promising situation.

The number of U.S.-born babies with unauthorized immigrant parents has fallen since 2007

FT_18.11.01_UnauthImmigrantBirths_births

About 250,000 babies were born to unauthorized immigrant parents in the United States in 2016, the latest year for which information is available, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. This represents a 36% decrease from a peak of about 390,000 in 2007.

The post The number of U.S.-born babies with unauthorized immigrant parents has fallen since 2007 appeared first on Pew Research Center.